San Juan River Naturalist Trip with Andrew Gulliford


San Juan River Naturalist – About This Trip


The Ghosts of the San Juan are many and what better way to explore this sacred canyon than through the eyes of a die-hard naturalist? The San Juan River holds a special place in our hearts as the calm refuge from an arid desert, the source of life between red-rock spires and buttes surrounding it. Join us for this extra special Naturalist trip with Dr Andrew Gulliford as he brings this river of ghosts back to life over the course of 5 days in the heart of the greater Bears Ears area and Goose Neck state park.

Bio: Andrew Gulliford is a historian, photographer, and travel guide who leads tours across the Southwest. An award-winning author and editor, he has won the Colorado Book Award, the New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, and the Wrangler Western Heritage Award. Dr. Gulliford is a professor of history & Environmental Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango.

Trip Overview


Location: Four Corners Region
Region Type: Rafting
Length: 5 Days
Dates: May 11-15, 2020
Meet At: Blanding, Utah 7:00 AM
Rating: Beginner
Age Min: 5
Deposit: $300


  • Perfect trip for kids and families
  • Float through the heart of Ancestral Puebloan culture
  • Dizzyingly beautiful canyons through Goosenecks State Park
  • Ideal pairing dry heat and and cool river water

Trip Price & Departure Dates


5 - Day -

Per Person - $1,025

*Plus $42 Agency fees

2020 Trip Date

May 11-15, 2020


Trip Slideshow


Full Gallery



Float from east to west along the "River Flowing from the Sunrise". Begin your trip in the town of Bluff, Utah, and ride the current down through some of the most spectacular rock displays on the Colorado Plateau. Pass the famous Mexican Hat Rock just upstream of the town of the same name, then travel through the Goosenecks of the San Juan. Take out at Clay Hills Crossing, just upstream of Lake Powell.



River trips are changeable by nature. It's why Holiday's motto is "Go With the Flow"! The itinerary of each trip we run can change depending on weather, seasonal water flows, the interests of our passengers, campsite availability, and countless other variables. Below is a sample itinerary of what a five-day trip on the San Juan River could include.

Day 1: Begin your adventure in Blanding, Utah at 7:00 a.m. Mountain Time, where we'll hop into our vans and travel for 45 minutes to the Sand Island put-in.  Spend the day encountering archaeological sites representing five distinct cultures of indigenous peoples. See pictographs, petroglyphs, and hand-hewn steps in the canyon walls. Investigate elegantly designed Ancestral Puebloan ruins before descending through Comb Ridge.

Day 2: Pass through the settlement of Mexican Hat, then wave at visitors on the rim of the Goosenecks, hundreds of feet above. Climb up to Mendenhall's cabin, home to an indefatigable gold prospector in the late 1800s. Camp at the foot of the Honaker Trail, another relic from the gold rush in 1892; hike up before dinner for an unforgettable view of the river canyon and Monument Valley.

Day 3: Small rapids and soaring walls are on tap this morning. Choose to float silently as a group, letting all of your senses come to life and open to the sensations of the canyon. Take a ride through Ross Rapid and roll into camp in time for lasagna dinner at our very own riverfront restaurant.

Day 4: The biggest rapid of the trip, Government Rapid, will splash off our morning. We'll lunch at Slickhorn Gulch, one of the most celebrated side canyons along the lower San Juan. Be sure to scrub off in the river before hiking to the secluded, lush swimming hole—sunscreen and other oils disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the freshwater pool.

Day 5: The canyon walls begin to descend around us until we are surrounded by smooth, golden Cedar Mesa sandstone. We may explore Oljeto Wash and play in the mud at its mouth before pushing on through the sandbars and riffles of the lower canyon. Our vans await at Clay Hills, our take-out, and we'll wave farewell to the river as we climb out of the drainage and across the rugged topography of the Monument Upwarp, back to Blanding, Utah, between 4:00–5:00 p.m.

Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary. This is not an exact description of the trip you will go on, rather an outline of possible activities that you may experience. The best way to enjoy a trip is to arrive with an open mind, a flexible attitude, and a willingness to "Go With the Flow"!


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